You know how when life doesn’t go according to plan and it seems as though you'll never, ever bounce back from your mistakes? Good news: Running into a few mishaps and false starts along the way may actually help you in the long run.
“What are often called mistakes are actually an integral step in the learning process — if you learn from them,” explains Katherine L. Ziegler, Ph.D., a psychologist, life coach, and founder of Self Aware Life in Oakland, California. “Take riding a bicycle. If you lean too far to the left or right and start wobbling, your brain and your muscles learn to straighten up. This course correction happens over and over again, becoming ever more natural and seamless. It’s the same with goals; we can learn from the actual results of our early choices and draw accurate conclusions that guide our next choices.”
Still, to succeed in your next attempts, there are some things you do need to nail from the get-go, like what your goals actually are. According to Ziegler, when you discover what you truly want, it helps you to adjust your goals accordingly. “This shortens the time it takes to check your plans against reality, and minimizes any compulsions to do it the hard way — actually pursuing the career or the guy, only to find the resulting experiences are not what you wanted at all," she says. In other words, if you’re still stuck in dead-end strategies, then that’s exactly where you are going to end up: at a dead end.
Rebounding from failure isn't easy, but it's worth looking at whether you've truly failed — or if you've merely failed to live up to someone else's definition of success. Ziegler says that it's only natural for us to choose a job, career, or relationship early in our lives because someone close to us thought it was cool, or right, or the best option for us. Unfortunately, these goals don't take into account our uniqueness. “There is actually no such thing as a job — or a place to live, a life partner, a lifestyle, a time in your life to get married or do anything else — that is the only right way for everybody,” she adds.
- 1 of 2